2018 ASC Connect with Culture Day Adventure Guide

By Matt Cosper

January 21, 2018

The folks at the Arts and Science Council (ASC) are the art czars for Charlotte-Mecklenburg: they advocate, they fund and they connect. From education programs and grants for artists to big picture cultural planning, ASC is immersed in a mission of making sure that art made in the Charlotte region has an audience. Culture for All is the organization’s credo and to that end they regularly offer events like the upcoming Connect with Culture Day.

On Friday and Saturday January 26-27 it would be wise to take advantage of this cultural bonanza. All over the region folks can access a diverse sampling of arts and education experiences free of charge. From Davidson to Ballantyne you’ll have your pick of paintings and puppetry, historical homesteads and birds of prey. There is a lot going on in our neck of the woods and this time you can’t blame your bank account for not taking advantage. Your mission on January 26 and 27 is to get some culture in you! And remember: while all of these events are free of charge, they are first come first served and some require reservations. 

Rumbao Latin Dance

Connect with Culture Day will kick off on Friday night with events in NoDa, Plaza-Midwood, South End, Uptown and The East Side. There’s a good mix of cultural representation and options based on how participatory you like your arts experiences to be. Try kicking back listening to live music, cutting rug at a dance lesson, or getting your hands dirty by making your own ceramics. There’s something for everyone. 

Here are some of our recommended events and happenings:

Friday Night

NoDa: Salsa lessons with Rumbao Latin Dance and DJ Chain at NoDa Brewing Company.

Food: The Tin Kitchen

Plaza-Midwood: An African Drum Circle with Drums4Life at Resident Culture Brewing on Central Avenue.

Food: The Dumpling Lady

Nicci Canada

South End: Nicci Canada and The Dapper Street Jazz Band at Lenny Boy Brewing Company.

Food: A Bao Time

East Side: Experience: Muddy Fun Class by Clayworks on Monroe Road. Food: Coordinated by Common Market

*This event requires that you pre-register, and that you dress to get a little messy.*

Uptown: Experience: Latin Music Concert Series featuring Mariachi Gavilanes Gabriel at The Mint Museum-Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts

*You can also purchase a limited edition Queen Charlotte pint glass featuring original art by local artist Emily Andress for $15 which includes one drink ticket at the brewery of your choice (some restrictions apply).

On Saturday the geographical scope of the offerings expands to cover the entire region and there are plenty of impressive events. Here are some of our picks in different categories but be sure to check the website to see all the offerings to see if something else catches your eye.


Charlotte Faces presented by Red Calaca Mobile Art Truck

Ages: All ages Time: 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Location: Charlotte Museum of History (3500 Shamrock Drive, Charlotte 28215)

Rosalia Torres is a local treasure, a talented artist and a lovely soul. She will be offering a two-hour workshop wherein participants will create a mixed-media self-portrait in her mobile art studio. Rosalia will facilitate a group discussion of identity and community during the workshop, so you’ll get a dose of perspective along with your creativity.

Red Calaca Mobile Art Truck

Free Admission to McColl Center for Art + Innovation

Ages: All ages Time: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Location: McColl Center for Art + Innovation (721 N. Tryon St., Charlotte 28202)

On any given day you’ll be able to find a trove of interesting contemporary art at the McColl. Add that to the architectural interest of the structure’s burned out church aesthetic and you’ve got plenty to wrap your head around on a visit. Go and get lost for awhile and then head down Tryon to check out the William Ivey Long show at the Mint.

Self-guided Gallery Tour at James B. Duke Memorial Library at Johnson C. Smith University

Ages: All ages Time: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Location: James B. Duke Library (100 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte 28216)

Photographer James G. Peeler captured the lives of many black Americans at events that run the gamut from the banal to the historical, including family reunions and funerals to important political moments. On display now is his exhibit, “Courage: The Carolina Story that Changed America,” documenting the people of Clarendon County, S.C., fighting for education equality. By showing us the ephemeral in the everyday, Peeler elevates his work from pure reportage into the realm of artistry.

James B. Duke Library

Self-Guided Gallery Tour at Davidson College

Ages: All ages Time: 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Location: Davidson College, Belk Visual Art Center (315 N. Main Street, Davidson 28035)

View the exhibition “Jen Ray: Surrounded by Wolves” and “Arthur Jafa: Love is The Message, The Message is Death.” Hypnotic meditations on big questions; these works are sophisticated and intense, and you’d be foolish to miss them.


Little Lotus Chinese Performance Company

Ages: All ages Time: 2:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Location: Charlotte Museum of History (3500 Shamrock Drive, Charlotte 28215)

This promises some interactivity, and a lot of traditional Chinese dance forms, both of which are cool. The real draw is the music though. Chinese folk songs can be challenging to Western ears but, once you’ve given them a chance, you’ll fall in love with these haunting melodies.

Quentin Talley & The Soul Providers

Ages: All ages Time: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Location: West Boulevard Library (2157 West Boulevard, Charlotte 28208)

Quentin Talley (the hardest working man in Charlotte showbusiness) and his band are going to lead you through a booty shaking history of Soul and Funk music. Talley and crew are as fun as they are funky. This is going to be dope, and that’s a fact.

Quentin Talley photo by Kurt Shackelford for CLTure

AfroFunk presented by A Sign of the Times

Ages: All ages Time: 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Location: Camp North End (1824 Statesville Avenue, Charlotte 28206)

A Sign of the Times is a local legend, a band with soul to spare and skills to put it all across. They’re partnering with local DJs to craft an experience that defies genre and is guaranteed to fill the dance floor. This is a great chance to catch A Sign of the Times if you haven’t before and to check out Camp Northend, the sprawling cultural campus that is on the bleeding edge of Charlotte cool.

Pop Up Performances by Opera Carolina

Ages: All ages Time: throughout the day

Location: IKEA (8300 Ikea Blvd., Charlotte 28262)

Grab some meatballs, set up shop in a re-creation of a living room and wait. Soon you might enjoy the spectacle of unexpecting shoppers encountering opera performers. The tension between high drama Italian music and mid-quality Scandinavian modular furniture makes this the event of the weekend for fans of the absurd.


Free Admission and STEM Experience

Ages: All ages Time: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Location: Carolinas Aviation Museum (4672 First Flight Drive, Charlotte 28208)

The Carolinas Aviation Museum is heaven on earth for airplane geeks. Chock full of neat artifacts and interactive exhibits, it’s the perfect place to learn the history of humankind’s dream of defying gravity.

Carolinas Aviation Museum photo by Jonathan Cooper

Animals of the Subconscious – Mask Making with Dulce Tavares

Ages: All ages Time: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Location: Nations Ford Road Elementary School (7050 Nations Ford Rd, Charlotte, NC 28217)

*Pre-registration required – Register now.

In the current exhibition at the Harvey B. Gantt Center of African-American Arts + Culture, Sloane Siobhan: Archetypes of the Subconscious, Siobhan has used animal imagery to encounter the deeper and darker sides of the human experience. In conversation with this exhibition, local artist, Dulce Tavares, will lead families through an animal-themed mask making workshop. Make sure you register for this one, since it will probably fill up fast!

Every Brilliant Thing presented by Three Bone Theatre

Ages: All ages Time: 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Location: West Boulevard Library (2157 West Boulevard, Charlotte 28208)

This beautiful piece of theatre for families deals with the difficult topic of depression. Three Bone is a rising star on the local theatre scene, so you can rest assured that this tough subject is handled with humor, sensitivity and grace.

Hansel and Gretel presented by Red Herring Puppets

Ages: 4 – 10 years Time: 11:00 a.m. – 11:40 a.m

Location: Community House Middle School – Cafeteria (9500 Community House Road, Charlotte 28277)

Puppets and Classical music guarantee that this event passes the “edification of the little ones” test. However, the real reason for taking your kids (or your cousins, or the neighbors’ kids) to this is the story itself: Hansel and Gretel! Just a quick reminder that H and G is the story of a bad ass little girl shoving a cannibal witch into an oven to save her dimwitted and gluttonous brother! No matter how sweetly they package this, it will definitely be the most metal thing happening in Charlotte this weekend.

Taste of the World

Things to do with the Crew

Taste of the World

Ages: All ages Time: 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Location: Charlotte Museum of History (3500 Shamrock Drive, Charlotte 28215)

You and your crew always bickering about what to eat? Scrap that drama and set up shop at Charlotte Museum of History on Saturday for a culinary journey around the globe. Serving a different dish each hour, you’ll be able to sample Vietnamese, Israeli, Caribbean, and Southern cuisine. Vegetarian options are available!

Nouveau Sud performance

Ages: All ages Time: 1:30 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Location: Charlotte Museum of History (3500 Shamrock Drive, Charlotte 28215)

I’m putting this in the Crew category because I want more Charlotte folk to know about this group. Nouveau Sud is a contemporary circus based in the histories, traditions, transformations, and iconography of Charlotte’s marginalized communities. The shows always feature first class dancing, music and feats of strength. This will be a highlight of the weekend, no doubt about it.

Free admission at Carolina Raptor Center

Ages: All ages Time: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Location: Carolina Raptor Center (6000 Sample Rd, Huntersville, NC 28078)

The Raptor Center is a jewel in the crown of Queen Charlotte for sure. This rehab center for injured birds of prey offers us lowly land dwellers a chance to observe these creatures up close. It is truly awesome to be amongst the owls, eagles and hawks in the woods of Huntersville. On the one hand, this is a great date spot because if the person you take isn’t into it, you know they ain’t a keeper. On the other hand, the ride back to Charlotte might be a little awkward.

African Dance Class with SHAE Movement African Arts

Ages: All ages Time: 12 p.m. – 12:45 p.m.

Location: Camino Community Center (201 Stetson Drive, Charlotte 28262)

You and the squadron need a dance you can do when you hit the club, yes? During this 45-minute class you will learn traditional West African rhythm and dance. You’ll get a little bit of cardio in the short term and something fresh to flex with the next time you and your friends hit the town. This is a no brainer.

Courtesy of ASC


Free Admission to Levine Museum of the New South

Ages: All ages Time: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Location: Levine Museum of the New South (200 E. 7th Street, Charlotte 28202)

The Levine Museum of the New South is a must for anyone who wants greater context for the past, present and future of this community. Thoughtfully curated exhibits artfully displayed make for an eye opening re-evaluation of Charlotte. You’ll leave with a new appreciation of where we’re coming from and where we are headed.

Tours and Backcountry Music at the Polk House

Ages: All ages

Time: Tours on the hour from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., music performances from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Location: James K. Polk State Historic Site (12031 Lancaster Hwy, Pineville 28134)

See exhibits and take a tour to explore the childhood home of President James K. Polk in Pineville. As an added bonus, Myers Park High School’s Bluegrass band and The High Ridge Pickers will be playing. This historical site is a great place to get a sense of the region’s past, and Old Time music is the perfect soundtrack. Bring your dancing shoes.

James K. Polk State Historic Site via Wikipedia Commons 

Tours of Carl J. McEwen Historic Village presented by Mint Hill Historical Society

Ages: All ages  Time: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Location: Carl J McEwen Historic Village (7601 Matthews Mint Hill Road, Mint Hill 28227)

This restored village allows visitors a glimpse into daily life for average people in Mint Hill at the turn of the 20th century. Guests can explore re-creations of a country doctor’s office, country store, gold assayer’s office, and one room schoolhouse. This experience should be stark reminder of the outrageous advances in technology made in the last century.

Check out the full schedule for ASC’s Connect with Culture Day.

*CLTure is proud media partner of ASC’s Connect with Culture Day*

Read next:

In this article